Applications of Songwriting with Mid to Late-Stage Dementia

Taylor Kurta BMT, MA, MTA (Certified Music Therapist)
Taylor Kurta

This presentation will explore the applications of therapeutic songwriting with individuals with mid to late-stage dementia. Therapeutic songwriting with individuals with dementia has been shown to provide an opportunity for clients to strengthen their identity and express emotions not easily articulated through words (Ahessy, 2017). Despite the potential benefits of songwriting with this population, only two studies to date have explored the use of songwriting with individuals with dementia (Baker & Sretton-Smith, 2018), and further research is needed in this area. Three clinical case examples will be presented using a novel proposed model of therapeutic songwriting suitable for this population.

Presentation Description:

This presentation will begin with a brief literature review on the use of therapeutic songwriting in geriatric populations, followed by an outline of a proposed therapeutic songwriting model used with clients with mid to late-stage dementia. A clinical case example will highlight the use of this proposed model along with a live group songwriting demonstration. Both audio recordings and a live musical example will be used, followed by an overview of further research directions, and an opportunity for audience questions and discussion.

Learner Objectives:

  • To understand the role of therapeutic songwriting in dementia care
  • To learn how to implement therapeutic songwriting in practice using a stepwise model
  • To learn specific songwriting techniques useful when working with clients with dementia
  • To transfer skills learned in the presentation into treatment planning and implementation


Target Audience:

Students, Entry-level professionals, Experienced professionals

Presenter Biography:

Taylor Kurta is an award-winning singer-songwriter and accredited music therapist specializing in geriatrics. Taylor is a PhD student studying Aging, Health, and Well-being at the University of Waterloo with research interests in therapeutic songwriting in dementia care and culture change in long-term care.